(Jan. 15, 2003)
With an interest in athletics and a background in exercise, Dr. Lorraine Basnight sees similarities in medicine and sports and how lessons learned in competition can aid health care professionals.
"I think sports can offer an opportunity for personal growth through teamwork," she said recently in her office in the Brody Medical Sciences Building. Basnight will spend 2003 serving as chief of the medical staff at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. "Medicine is a team sport."
After serving a year as chief-elect of the PCMH medical staff, Basnight, who goes by "Lorrie," was elected chief at the medical staff's December meeting. She is the second woman to lead PCMH's medical staff in the hospital's 52-year history.
As chief of staff, Basnight will appoint doctors to various medical staff committees and appoint the chairmen of those committees. She also will lead the quarterly medical staff meetings and act as a liaison between doctors and the PCMH board of trustees and administration.
"I'm looking forward to being a part of the group of people that makes decisions for the hospital," said Basnight, a board-certified pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics. "I hope that by the end of the year people will think that I provided good leadership."
A native of Chapel Hill, Basnight came to ECU in 1995, fresh out of residency at the Medical Center of Delaware and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She has a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and before that received a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology from UNC. She directed the Human Performance Laboratory at Duke University Medical Center before entering medical school in 1986.
"I wanted to have a better, broader, deeper understanding of how humans work," Basnight said.
Basnight listed three goals for her term as chief, one of which is continuing the focus on improving quality, not only in patient care but also in communication among physicians and between physicians and PCMH staff members and patient families. She includes medical residents in her plans. After all, she is the pediatric residency director at the medical school and is married to pediatric resident David Collier.
Another goal of Basnight's is to emphasize medical education and the role of students in the medical community. Though educating medical, nursing and other health sciences students adds inefficiency to patient care and doesn't get reimbursed very well, it remains a core mission of PCMH, she said. "That's really why I'm in medicine - the teaching aspect," she said. "I feel honored to be around someone as they're learning to become a doctor."
Basnight also wants to work on a plan to improve dental care for PCMH patients - indigent patients, trauma victims, children born with cleft palates and others. "I think it's time the physicians support a plan to have coordinated activities in that area," she said. Physicians should be involved in determining the dental needs of the area, she said, and one possibility for improving care might be financial support for an indigent dental clinic. Expansion of the dental residency program at the Brody School of Medicine could be a starting point for improved care, she said, but grander ideas should also get a close look. "I think we might need a dental school here," she said. "We might need to look into that."
One of the biggest challenges Basnight will face is this spring's reaccreditation survey by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. But with two surveys in the past eight months by the state Division of Facility Services, Basnight is confident PCMH is ready for JCAHO. "It really helped us get a lot of things in line," she said the DFS surveys. "I really do think we're well prepared."
During her year as chief of staff-elect, Basnight said she learned how much goes on behin